The 18lb common I had caught from there the week before was a fantastic fish on a December afternoon, I just had to find out if they were still feeding. Thirty minutes later I rolled into the car park, again I was the only one there. Loading up with more than enough gear for a few hour session I pushed my way through the copse of trees and out on to the bankside. I was half expecting the lake to be covered in ice, and indeed half of it was but the westerly wind had kept one side free so I wandered off to my right along the path that looked untrodden for a while.

This side of the lake was quite overgrown which meant I was expecting to find any carp that may be around right in the edge. In several areas hawthorn bushes overhung the edge and the remains of reed beds pushed out into the margins. I found a few deep margin spots that had gravel sloping features and here I dropped in some trout pellets before wandering on. I had seen no carp until I reached the far end where a derelict pumping house stood, it's roof fallen in. Then a dark mirror pushed itself up out of the water a third of the way across to the ice covered far margin.

I dropped my gear at that spot before wandering back to the car park, along the path I had just walked up, looking at all the margin spots I had baited up. I saw no more carp so returned to the far end and cast out two rods, both baited with trout pellets over hemp and more trout pellets.

The day was quite nice for late December with a nice breeze blowing towards me. I sat back and looked around the pleasant surroundings, my head clearing from being stuck inside. I only had a couple of hours of actual fishing and this seemed to fly by. No fish bothered my baits and I saw no more roll as I packed up. Slowly I wandered back to the car park, again looking at the margin spots. At the last but one I stopped in my tracks, the grey shape of a mirror became clear as I looked harder, and it was feeding on the bait I had put in. I looked at my watch and cursed, I was late already, this chance I would have to miss. I went back to the car and loaded up but before I left I quickly took some bait and baited up the other three spots again. Carp were obviously willing to feed so I needed some bait for them to eat whilst I was gone. I had one last lingering look at the mirror as it continued to feed, as it turned I could see it was quite heavily scaled, a fish of perhaps 23lb or so.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day passed in the usual mix of celebrations. I made sure I saw the weather forecast and sure enough the 27th was going to be mild again. By 9am I was back in the car park. This time though another car was there; my heart sank as I was sure whomever it was would have found some carp feeding on my bait. As I emerged out of the trees though I gave a sigh of relief as I saw a green brolly on the far bank up to the left. Ice still covered the far end but there was less than on Christmas Eve. I set off up to my right and soon I was looking in to the little margin spots. There was no sign of any carp where the mirror had been feeding so I baited all four spots and waited. I cast two rods to likely looking spots whilst I waited, every fifteen minutes getting up and wandering up and down looking in the edge.

The day passed slowly and I was cursing my missed opportunity before, as it looked no carp would come in. However after two hours, on my next look around, I glimpsed a tail just leaving one of the spots. I peered in more carefully with Polaroids and deep down I could see the distinctive shape of a carp feeding. As I watched another carp, probably the one that swam off, came up from the left and glided over the gravel before joining it's mate to feed. I backed off and went to get my gear. I wound in and moved everything behind the carp. As I peered in I thought of how to get a bait in as they were feeding well. I flicked a few pellets beyond them hoping to make them move slightly. It worked well, too well for one of the carp as it swam quickly away, the other though just slowly glided away. Without delay I dropped a bait on the spot and sank the line and set it up so the tip was up the bank, the line feeding over the marginal grass. I then sat and waited.

I waited for another hour; in the meantime the carp both came back and fed on and off. Suddenly the line tightened and the buzzer screamed, I was in. The carp fought well in the deep water moving left and right trying to get in to the marginal bushes but soon it was in the net. During the fight I had seen it was a mirror, with many scales. On the bank indeed I found it was a scattered mirror, some of the scales like huge plates. It's back was black and its flanks a mixture of greys and purples, a fine beast weighing 22lb 13oz, another fantastic result.

The other angler came around and took some photos of it for me. He told me a bit about the lake, he was not a carp angler but said only a few carp were caught each season, most were lost in the heavy lilies and weed, he had never heard of any being caught in winter. We both admired the carp before I slipped it back, the water feeling very cold. I fished for another few hours until dark in other spots but no more carp showed. I thought and realised what fantastic untapped fishing I had on my doorstep and cursed the little time I had to fish in Sussex as all my fishing is based around my work area in the Valley. I would certainly be coming back before I returned to work on 7th January mind!

Happy New Year!

Have fun!